Global Reaction

China suspends approvals for new nuclear plants

Updated: 2011-03-16 18:59
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BEIJING - China has suspended the approval process for nuclear power stations so that safety standards can be revised after explosions at a Japanese plant, according to Wednesday's executive meeting of the State Council, or the Cabinet.

The State Council has required relevant departments to do safety checks at existing plants, according to a statement released after the meeting, which was presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao.

The statement said all reactors in operation in China are safe and the country remains unaffected by radioactive leakages following explosions at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant which was crippled by Friday's 9.0-magnitude quake and ensuing tsunami.

The radioactive leakages won't affect public health in China since they are diluted by the air and sea, the statement said, citing nuclear experts.

"Safety is our top priority in developing nuclear power plants, " the State Council said in the statement, calling for a comprehensive safety check and enhanced management over existing plants.

Before the revised safety standards are approved, all new nuclear power plants, including pre-construction works, should be suspended, according to the statement.

China has six nuclear power plants in operation, which are located along the country's eastern and southern coasts.

The State Council also required the country's environmental regulator, the National Nuclear Safety Administration, to step up monitoring of radioactive substances and issue alerts timely, said the statement.

On March 12, the National Nuclear Safety Administration, under China's Ministry of Environmental Protection, began nationwide radiation monitoring, with results released on its official website every day.

Early in the day another fire broke out at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering fear in Tokyo and international alarm. Workers withdrew briefly because of surging radiation levels and a helicopter failed to drop water on the most troubled reactor.

The statement also said that China would continue help Japanese authorities to move Chinese citizens in Japan to safety.